Workers from Overseas

All employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal migrant working. You must therefore check the entitlement of everyone you plan to employ to work in the UK.  If you fail to do this, you may be liable to pay a civil penalty of up to £10,000. If you knowingly employ an illegal migrant worker, you may face criminal prosecution, which could result in an unlimited fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.

You should ask them to provide the documents before you make a job offer. The easiest way to do this is to ask all candidates to bring their documents with them when they come to interview. Once the worker has presented you with the necessary document(s), you must:

•    satisfy yourself that the document(s) are valid and genuine, and have not been tampered with
•    check that any photographs and birth dates on the documents match the applicant's appearance
•    check information in the job application against the documents to ensure the details match up
•    check that the document(s) allow the worker to do the work on offer You must check all applicants' right to work in the UK - Even if you think  that a potential worker has the right to work in the UK, you should still make the necessary checks.

To avoid data protection issues you should not take copies of all candidates documents.  Once a person has been appointed, keep a record of relevant documents you are shown, by either photocopying them or scanning and saving them electronically on a non-rewritable disk, eg CD-R or DVD-R.

With passports and travel documents, copy:
•    the front cover
•    the date of expiry
•    any photographs and signature
•    all of the pages giving your potential employee's personal details including nationality
•    pages containing a UK government stamp, or endorsement allowing your employee to do the work you are offering

You should copy other documents in their entirety.

You must keep copies of the documents until two years after the worker's employment ends. Keeping these records will show consistent practice on your part, should the UK Border Agency detect anyone working illegally for you.

If you lose any records, the UK Border Agency might look at your normal recruitment procedures when considering if you have established a consistent practice of copying documents for each worker.

You should only retain a person's original documents in order to copy them.
The only exceptions are:
•    P45
•    If you employ someone for 24 hours or less and it is not practicable to take a copy of the documents, you can retain the document(s) while they work for you but you must be able to keep them safe.

You must not keep a potential worker's original documents for more than a day. If you deliberately keep a person's passport or other original documents without their consent, you may be guilty of an offence.

The main groups you can employ without any restrictions are:
•    British citizens.
•    Citizens of the UK, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland.
•    Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode in the UK.
•    European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and Swiss nationals.
•    Individuals who are not EEA or Swiss nationals but who are family members of nationals from EEA countries and Switzerland - as long as the EEA or Swiss national is lawfully residing  in the UK.
•    Dependents of migrants who have entered the UK under one of the tiers of the points-based system.

Please note that SME Payroll Services do not check the employment credentials of individuals on the payroll - this responsibility lies absolutely with the employer at the time of  engagement any new employee.